¦ Features ¦ 2006AD
Best continuing Dredd story or one-off
Gavin Hanly: I
don't feel I can choose Origins for this one, I'm afraid, as the series has
been victim to excessive expectations that couldn't possibly be met. As it is,
Origins is entertaining enough, but has yet to scale the same heights as some
of the best Dredd tales from recent years like Sin City Total War. That's not
to say that once viewed as a whole it might read much better, but it has seemed
a little disjointed so far.
So this year it's The Connection that
gets the top honour from me. It instilled a feeling of dread (pun intended)
of upcoming events and seemed well in keeping with the development of Dredd as
the silent but conflicted character that Wagner has built him into. Coupled
with the moody artwork of Kev Walker, this was easily the best run
of Dredd in 2006.
An honourable mention goes to both Cadet and Regime Change
in the Megazine, the latter of which did a fine job of developing the character
of Dredd and his world, which was especially needed during the lean months in
the run up to Origins.
James Mackay: Have there
been any other stories this year? Origins, despite a really crap first
four weeks, has caught fire and is now incandescent. Possibly the greatest
Judge Dredd story ever told, certainly the first truly epic story since “The
Pit”, and it’s not even finished yet. Yay John Wagner.
I realise that by picking The Connection I’m
voting for a pre-match warm-up but this story was anything but a time filler.
In fact, it had the great Wagner traits of crisp dialogue, super-efficient storytelling
and a compelling hook.
I always like Kev Walker’s Mega City One. Moody artwork putting the story
firmly on the streets, away from the techie stuff that can sometimes get in the
Most importantly, it connected on the human level; something that’s notoriously
difficult to do with Dredd. The panel with our “hero” bleeding in
the rain and calling for help is my enduring image of the year.
Alex Frith: Origins may
not have finished yet, but already we've had some fun in the Cursed Earth, learned
the history of the creation of the Judge system, and had a glimpse at Dredd as
a youngster. Funny, poignant writing, and impeccable drawing from Ezquerra.
Stephen Watson: I did like America : Cadet
Regime Change but you really can’t see beyond Origins for it’s depth,
significance and excellent art. Best Dredd epic since the Apocalypse War
A build-up to the much-anticipated Origins, The Connection reunites the script
and art team behind last year's tour de force, Mandroid.
Kev Walker's gritty
art and granite-faced Dredd perfectly compliment Wagner's pitch perfect, taught
script, which manages to combine the grim realism of a twisting murder investigation
with the inherent absurdities of Tooey and Chuck's relationship. Juggling
Dredd's visions (featuring his clone-father, Fargo) into the mix and weaving
it all together with a classic maguffin device take this beyond compelling reading
and into the stratosphere of the Dredd mythos.
The understated accompanying cover
(of prog 1503) by Jock and Chris Blythe, perfectly compliments the tale.
Andrew Howe: It
might sound a little harsh, but a list of the non-Origins stories
for 2006 reveals an unfortunate affinity for filler. The only efforts
that broke five episodes were Your Beating Heart and House of Pain,
both of which were mildly sadistic affairs that favoured mutilation over the
character-driven highlights of 2005 (Mandroid, Blood Trails etc). Rennie
provided the antidote with a couple of memorable one-off’s (Fitness
Test and Return to Planet Gary), but there’s little doubt
that Origins was the big-ticket item of 2006.
The jury’s still
out, but to date it’s been an agreeable history
lesson that fills in some gaps we never knew existed. It lacks the inventiveness
of the classic epics (compare this foray into the Cursed Earth with the original
and you’ll see what I mean), but the holding pattern that infiltrated the
strip in 2006 suggests lasting changes may be afoot. It’s a win by
default, though by no means an unearned honour.
Bryan Coyle: I'd have to say Origins. So
far it's been a more restrained retread of the Cursed Earth saga, but there's
a palpable excitement about the story brought about by Wagner's earlier claim
that filling in Dredd's backstory would be his swansong on the character, and
the chance to disregard DC Dredd continuity in an official and final capacity
should always be welcomed by anyone who ever had the misfortune to read an issue. It's
probably too early to really say what the story's impact will be on readers,
though the hype surrounding it is admirable, and I'm a sucker for most Dredd
epics, even if the last few have been lamentable.
As of prog 2007, we've seen the start of the atomic war, the
judge system coming to prominence, and Dredd and Rico's first taste of the job. The politics
may suffer from being presented in too simplistic or ham-fisted a manner, but
the timeline of the atomic war seems unnervingly plausible so far, which Wagner
acknowledges with the revelation that Bad Bob Booth stole an election - current
events caught up with the two-dimensional backstory of Dredd's world, it would
Adam Crabtree: Ah, Dredd. It’s been
something of a slow year for the great man, with the usual quota of disembowelments
and crushing of the proletariat not quite being met, despite some valiant making-up
efforts from House of Pain and Your Beating Heart. Both of those stories, while
willing to go that extra mile in terms of gore, didn’t really have the
heart (‘scuse me) to be truly
Still, the latter quarter of the year picked up, as far as
the weekly is concerned. The Connection was a triumphant return of the Wagner/Walker
creative team that made last year’s brilliant Mandroid fly. And then of course,
Origins. Hmmmm… Though this long-awaited series has reached some pretty
damn lofty heights recently, it’s not been quite what I expected so far.
After a riveting beginning it revealed itself as a jarringly awkward tale of
titting about in a desert with some comedy mutants. It’s on the ascent,
but 2006 is not Origins’ year.
The weekly was not without its gems though. “PF” was
Wagner on glittering comedic form, taking a beautifully simple concept (computerised
porta-loo malfunctions on a hapless citizen) and burning the first-rate execution
into the memory. In addition to this, it boasted the expressive and effortlessly
stylish scribblings of virtuoso Arthur Ranson (and that was just ONE great
aspect of the particularly exceptional Prog 1476). It walks away with the Dredd
If the weekly was stingy with moments to rival “PF”, the Megazine
definitely knew where it was at, providing the brilliant but frustratingly brief “America
III”, and Gordon Rennie’s incendiary “Regime
latter of which thieves the best continuing story award with its cinema scope
David Knight: Without a
doubt, the best Judge Dredd story of 2006 was Origins,
but the competition wasn’t exactly stiff. Gordon Rennie deserves an honourable
mention for Regime Change and House of Pain, but the prize
goes to John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra for their unparalleled work on yet another
For me, it was pretty much a battle
between Jumped and Your Beating Heart which was very good, I just found that
Jumped was the better of them both. John Smith turned
out to write an excellent, if a bit short, tale. Strange thing about it was that
even though it was a Dredd story, it didn't really center around him at all and
instead on the tragic character of Reefer. Excellent writing
to what turned out to be a dramatic and actiony story and the art of Simon Fraser?
Top notch with some lovely colouring from Gary Caldwell, who in my opinion is
the best colourist 2000AD has. I await the return of John Smith in 2007's Dead
Eyes with another great artist, Lee Garbett. Happy days.
Martin Charlton: I’m not going to say
Origins, as although I’m loving it to bits
at the moment, some of the earlier episodes were ropey, and it doesn’t
quite match the hope. Instead I’m choosing Regime
Change by Gordon Rennie
as a delightful little piece of subterfuge and political machinations that works
as a marvellous piece of allegory. Many criticised the art, but I’m all
for art as a surrealist device, with characters’ personalities reflected
in their portrayals, and in the absence of Siku, this’ll do just fine!
WR Logan: For continuing story there can be
only one winner and that has to be Origins, it’s been a fantastic read
so far and still has until February to run. Wagner & Ezquerra on top form
and once again proving that they have plenty left in the creative tanks that
can show these newer models of droids how things are done.
For one offs there are two stories by one writer that get
my vote, the stories are, Dominoes from Prog
1482 and Versus from
written by Simon Spurrier.
Pete McCosh: I’m going to take one element
out of the mix by saying Origins can’t
be considered until it’s finished.
There have been a few stories this year
exploring MC1’s place in international (and interplanetary) affairs. Warzone
was terrible, while I enjoyed Regime Change immensely. The one that really stood
out for me was Splashdown. I liked Dominoes - the story that
introduced this new character - but this one added a cool layer of weird sci-fi
to the mix that really did it for me.
Joseph Saxton: I’m going to exclude
Origins from this category because it hasn’t
finished yet, and because its probably too much of a given. A number of
other Dredds stand out for me this year. In one offs we had PF, a great little
story that managed to make toilet humour funny; Time and Again was a fun bit
of farce and Fitness Test was a subtly handled piece on aging.
longer stories only two really stand out from the bunch: Jumped and the Connection. Both
stories were well paced, well illustrated and dealt with an emerging threat,
the major differences being the lack of significant resolution in The Connection
compared to the solid conclusion but lingering threat in Jumped. While
Jumped was an excellent story I’m going to go for The
Connection here as
the art was fantastic and the pacing excellent. Special notice goes for
the foreboding scene between Dredd and Fargo.